Filed Under: Poetry

Date Created:24 Feb 2017

Last Modified:24 Feb 2017

Number of Views: 444

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds, and only vowel sounds. Most people confuse assonance with alliteration, consonance or rhyme.

Alliteration is the repetition of similar sounds at the beginning of words, especially consonant sounds (because most words begin with consonants anyway).


Here is an example of alliteration:

Bold Billy was a brave sailor;

He steered his mighty ship with a stern eye

Brave Billy the Bold - A poem by LJ Kundananji.

Note the repetition of consonant sounds. This is alliteration.

Consonance refers to the repetition of consonant sounds at the end of words or within the words that are on the same lines.

For example:

Deadly Jade laughed and joked about his dastardly deeds.

Rhyme refers to the similarity of sound between words, but more so especially the ending of words. To be more specific, rhyme refers to similarity of sound in the pronounced syllables. The repeated sounds may not necessarily be vowels. For example:

Grant and blunt

As shown above, if any consonant follow the rhyming vowels, it should also be the same sound.

In addition, rhyme often occurs at the end of lines, like most of Shakespeare’s poems.

Here is an example of rhyme:

For a while, a small, painful little while,

My life was full of darkness and everything vile.

Intently, everyday, I searched and sought for thee

But I looked in all wrong places and you eluded me.

The day Sunshine came - a poem by LJ.

As you can note, the rhyme occurs at the end of the lines.

On the other hand, assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds within the words which are on the same line, i.e., they closely follow each other, otherwise the repetitive pattern will not be felt.

If consonants follow the similar vowels they should not necessarily sound the same.

When you read the lines, the vowel sounds seem to echo…

Check out the following example:

The men died as I dined

On the lentils, the dregs of stew and eggs,

And as I drunk down the wine they shuddered

The poison in their belies festered, they died.

My vile deed I greeted with glee

What a grand end to my valiant but docile foes!

But as I made merry, I felt a festering fire

In my belly, a deadly great pain

To the ground I crushed, like I was gunned down

And dense darkness fenced me off, I too died.

In the poem above, a single vowel sound is repeated in all the lines. However, in some cases, more than one vowel sound can be repeated, as is demonstrated in this line:

What a grand end to my valiant but docile foes!

Sometimes, alliteration, rhyme , consonance and assonance are used in the same line in order to enhance the repetitive patterns. Because of their close relationship, they are often confused with each other.

But the secret is to take them one at a time, understand them and learn to use them individually. In time, you will learn how to blend them all together in your poem. That is what good poets do.

For now, try to write a poem which employs the repetition of the same vowel sounds in one line.

I would also recommend reading a lot of poems. As you do so, observe how they make use of assonant patterns. In time, you will master this aspect of poetry.

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